Airtel Africa is expanding its strategic partnership with Ericsson to enable 4G coverage in Kenya. With Ericsson’s Radio Access Network (RAN) and packet core products for 4G, Airtel subscribers will experience enhanced quality of voice and data.
The network modernization deal, signed in August 2020, is in line with the Kenyan Digital Economy Blueprint Vision 2030 which aims to provide robust connectivity in rural areas and facilitate e-commerce platforms. The modernization deal will drive the simplification and upgrade of the existing network and future-proof it for the anticipated rapid mobile expansion in the country.
With Ericsson Radio System and Packet Core solutions, Airtel Kenya’s network will have 4G coverage, while driving enhanced use cases in both the consumer and the enterprise segments. Ericsson technology shall make the network in Kenya ready for 5G deployment.
Prasanta Das Sarma, CEO at Airtel Kenya says: “Robust and secure communications are an essential component of a digital society in Kenya. We are firmly anchored to the strategy of delivering reliable connections across the country and are looking forward to expanding the high-quality mobile broadband services to our subscribers.”
Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “Together with Airtel, we will implement this project that aims to establish an advanced LTE network in Kenya, providing Airtel’s customers an enriched experience – both in the consumer and business segments. Through this partnership, we reaffirm our ambition to set #AfricaInMotion by partnering with Airtel to grow and support an increasingly digitalized society in Kenya.”
Furthermore, Ericsson will deploy its Kathrein Mobile Communication Antenna portfolio which will help provide additional enhancement to the network’s robustness whilst Ericsson’s technologically advanced network management system, Ericsson Network Manager will be utilized to support Airtel in managing the network seamlessly by integrating various network elements on single platform.
Pantami, Pantami, Telcos Strategise On 70% Broadband Target
L-R: Ayuba Shuaibu, Secretary, Universal Service provision Fund (USPF); Dr. Adebayo Adewusi, Director General, Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST); Dr. Aliyu Abubakar, Director General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director/CEO, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT); Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy; Kashifu Abdullahi, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Prof. Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); Ubale Maska, Chairman, Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) and Olusola Teniola, President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) at the stakeholder forum on Monday.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Ibrahim Pantami and the executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and telecommunication stakeholders have begun moves to implement the 70 per cent national broadband target.
The top government officials met relevant industry players on Monday in Abuja to discuss ways for achieving accelerated implementation of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020-2025.
At the first stakeholders’ consultation with the industry players held under the auspices of the Ministry, Pantami specifically harped on the need for collaboration between the public and private stakeholders to achieve the national target of 70 per cent broadband penetration, as provided in the NNBP.
“It is, however, important to bear in mind that broadband penetration, access to smartphones, development of digital identity ecosystem and biometric verification of bank accounts, are four key elements that can drive the digital economy,” he said.
While asking the industry stakeholders who participated at the forum physically and virtually to come up with ideas on areas where attention should be given by the government to accelerate broadband penetration, the Minister talked about various ongoing policy initiatives aimed at creating an enabling environment for industry players towards pervasive deployment of broadband infrastructure.
He added that the success of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) is also contingent on effective implementation of the broadband plan.
Also addressing the forum, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the Commission is embarking on necessary regulatory measures to actualize the targets in the national broadband policy.
“As a Commission, we are seeking collaborative action for the implementation of the plan and the NDEPS. The Commission will continue to facilitate necessary regulatory measures for the deployment of fibre infrastructure to all parts of the country, which is crucial for pervasive broadband penetration that we are all working to achieve,” Danbatta said.
He stated that while steady progress has been made with 54,724, kilometer of fibre so far deployed across the country, spirited efforts are being made by the Commission not only to increase this milestone in fibre infrastructure but also ensure their maximum protection by working with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to stem the spate of infrastructure vandalism.
Industry stakeholders led by the president of Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Olusola Teniola, advocated the need for buy-in by the operators and key stakeholders in the broadband vision and implementation drive of the government.
Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman, Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) and Executive Commissioner, Technical Services at NCC, Ubale Maska, stated that the main purpose of the consultation is to present the key provisions of the new national broadband plan in terms of its set targets, pillars, recommended initiatives, implementation timelines, responsibility matrix, governance structure and the various roles expected to be played by all stakeholders in the implementation of the plan, especially the key industry players.
The programme was attended by CEOs of agencies under the Ministry and representatives of telecoms companies.
NCC Reviewing InfraCo Framework, Funding Options, Says Danbatta
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has constituted a committee to review the framework for the licencing of Infrastructure Companies (InfraCo) and recommend sustainable funding options for effective implementation of the proposed national fibre project.
A statement signed by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs, NCC stated that the constitution of the committee was sequel to the requirements of the new Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025).
It also includes reports of relevant committees set up by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which includes the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee on Multiple Taxation on Telecommunications Operators over Right-of-Way (RoW) and the Technical Sub-Committee on Right-of-Way for Deepening Broadband Penetration in Nigeria.
Adinde noted that these requirements and reports relate to the imperative of reviewing the InfraCo framework to cater for the delays in take-off, change in exchange rate, supply chain and other challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said so far, the committee set up by the Commission has met with all licensed InfraCos as well as the preferred bidder for the North Central zone. The Committee is also looking at the challenges facing the InfraCo project, the need for accelerated deployment of fibre infrastructure, means of mitigating the exorbitant RoW charges, among others.
The Commission is also working actively with the Broadband Implementation Steering Committee (BISC) as constituted by the Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy based on the recommendations and requirements of the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025).
Providing updates on the status of the InfraCo project in his office in Abuja at the weekend, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said: “The InfraCo project is dear to the government because of its ability to enhance robust and pervasive broadband infrastructure to drive service availability, accessibility and affordability.”
According to him, “We are keen on ensuring the project delivers maximum benefits for the economy at large and that is why the ongoing review is very critical to the overall success of the project in line with the new realities of the time.”
The EVC clarified that the current status of the InfraCo project, as provided above is contrary to reports suggesting that the Commission is inching towards executing the counter-part funding in respect of the project.
Airtel Signs 5G Radio Network Deal with Ericsson
Bharti Airtel strengthened an agreement with Ericsson to deploy 5G-ready radio and transport products, boosting the Indian operator’s network capacity as it continues to prepare for the launch of next-generation services.
In a statement, Ericsson said the extended multi-year contract built upon the pair’s 25-year partnership and would allow Airtel to enhance its network capacities, including backhaul, to deliver a superior experience to its customers.
Airtel CTO Randeep Sekhon highlighted the move’s importance for building a network “ready for 5G and beyond”, noting the company was “obsessed with delivering the best network experience to our customers, especially in these unprecedented times when digital connectivity is more important than ever”.
India is expected to allocate 5G spectrum in 2021, after the process was delayed this year due to poor economic conditions of the industry, while operator pilot schemes to trial the technology have also been held back as a consequence of Covid-19 (coronavirus) lockdown measures.
India’s push into 5G has also been complicated by rising tensions between the country and China, which has led to severe question marks over the involvement of Chinese vendors in the country.
Nunzio Mirtillo, SVP for South East Asia Oceania and India at Ericsson, added the products manufactured in India will enable Airtel’s network to “cater to the country’s fast-growing data traffic needs”.
The move follows a renewed partnership between the two companies over deploying Ericsson’s AI-based automated technology for network performance boost.
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